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O.J. MCDUFFIE vs JOHN W. URIBE, M.D.
Case Number: 3D18-2558
Judge: Monica Gordo
Court: Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida
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In this medical malpractice case, former Miami Dolphins player, O.J.
McDuffie, sued his treating physician, Dr. Uribe, for damages resulting from his
career-ending toe injury in 1999. This is an appeal from the final judgment rendered
after the second trial, in which the jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Uribe, and
from the trial court’s order denying post-trial motions.
Following the first trial in this case, final judgment was entered in McDuffie’s
favor. The trial court subsequently granted Dr. Uribe’s motion for new trial.1
Prior to the second trial in 2018, the defense filed a motion in limine to
preclude any reference to Dr. Uribe and Dr. Myerson’s prior testimony or opinions
concerning non-party Dr. Mills’ fault, which was improperly injected into the first
2 The trial court granted the motion in limine and the case proceeded to trial,
yielding a defense verdict.
1 The order granting a new trial was affirmed by this Court in McDuffie v. Uribe,
133 So. 3d 947 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).
2 Prior to the first trial, summary judgment had been entered in favor of Dr. Mills;
thus, he was exonerated from fault. See Crowell v. Kaufmann, 845 So. 2d 325, 327
(Fla. 2d DCA 2003). “Because the trial court determined as a matter of law that Dr.
[Mills] was not at fault, Dr. [Uribe] would not have been entitled to place him on the
verdict form.” Id.; see S. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Fla. Dep’t of Transp., 668 So. 2d
1039, 1041 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996) (“If there is no [legally sufficient] evidence [in the
record from which the jury can find that the Fabre defendant was at fault], the
defendant is not entitled to have the Fabre defendant placed on the verdict form.”).
On appeal, McDuffie argues the lower court erred by excluding the prior
testimony of Dr. Uribe and Dr. Myerson as impeachment evidence and by allowing
Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Anderson to testify without being qualified as expert witnesses.
We review the trial court’s rulings on the admissibility of evidence under an
abuse of discretion standard. Mathieu v. State, 258 So. 3d 528, 532 (Fla. 3d DCA
Drs. Uribe & Myerson’s Prior Testimony
While McDuffie describes Dr. Uribe’s prior testimony as attributing fault to
Dr. Mills, the trial court determined Dr. Uribe never testified that Dr. Mills’ conduct
fell below the standard of care, never said he committed malpractice, and never said
the surgery caused the end of McDuffie’s career. In its analysis, the court ruled any
such reference was irrelevant to the case as a matter of law based on Dr. Mills being
shielded from liability.
Similarly, McDuffie challenges the exclusion of the prior trial testimony to
impeach Dr. Myerson as to his previous causation opinions. The trial court found,
however, that the testimony adduced at the second trial was not inconsistent with
Dr. Myerson’s prior causation opinions and did not open the door for impeachment.
“It is well settled that ‘[t]he admissibility of evidence is within the sound
discretion of the trial court, and the trial court’s determination will not be disturbed
on appellate review absent a clear abuse of that discretion.’” Muhammad v. State,
132 So. 3d 176, 192 (Fla. 2013) (quoting Rimmer v. State, 59 So. 3d 763, 774 (Fla.
2010)). Upon a thorough review of the voluminous record and transcripts in this
case, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s decision to preclude testimony
that it deemed irrelevant and evidence that it concluded was improper for
Admissibility of Treating Physicians’ Testimony
McDuffie separately argues that the court erred in admitting deposition
designations from treating physicians, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Caldwell. McDuffie
alleges the doctors impermissibly provided standard of care and causation opinions.
“[A] treating physician testifies as a fact witness ‘concerning his or her own
medical performance on a particular occasion and is not opining about the medical
performance of another.’” Gutierrez v. Vargas, 239 So. 3d 615, 622 (Fla. 2018)
(quoting Fittipaldi USA, Inc. v. Castroneves, 905 So. 2d 182, 186 (Fla. 3d DCA
2005)). “Treating physicians are limited to their medical opinions as they existed at
the time they were treating the plaintiff . . .” Id. The court concluded that the
testimony did not amount to expert testimony on standard of care or causation
because the opinions rendered were based on the doctors’ personal knowledge,
experience and treatment of McDuffie
Outcome: Accordingly, we find no abuse of discretionin the trial court admitting the testimony of the treating physicians.